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Jesus’ Model of Discipleship



Jesus’ style and methods of teaching were exemplified through relationship and the use of story-telling or parables. He gave the disciples insight about his teachings.[29] Jesus’ primary teaching style was through the use of parables. A parable is a simple story used to illustrate a moral or spiritual lesson. I. H. Marshall describes parables as “forms of teaching which present the listener with interesting illustrations from which can be drawn moral and religious truths…usually designed to inculcate a single truth or answer a single question….[30] There are several examples of parables throughout the Gospels. An example occurs in Matthew 13. Jesus tells the Parable of the Sower to a crowd. To summarize the parable, a farmer sows seed in a field. In this parable, there were few seed that fell on fertile soil. The seed that fell on good soil grew well and could be harvested. Only in the privacy of the disciples did Jesus reveal the meaning. As the disciples questioned Jesus about his purpose with parables, Jesus informed them, “To you it has been given to know the secret of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given” (Matt. 13:11).[31] He continued to reveal the meaning of the passage in its entirety to the twelve disciples. Because Jesus spent more time teaching the disciples, they were able to understand his parables. In this way, discipleship was paramount in understanding the principles that Jesus taught them.

Jesus also commissioned the disciples to teach others to obey all that he commanded them in their time together. The most important command, according to Jesus, is found in Matthew 22. A Pharisee asked which command was the greatest and Jesus responded, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt 22:37-39). Loving the Lord their God refers to Deuteronomy 6:4 where the commandment was originally given. This commandment instructed God’s people to love him with their entire being. To the disciples, this command was associated with instilling the mandates on their hearts, teaching them to their children, and speaking of them constantly (Deut 6:6-9). Through the study of the Torah they learned the Lord’s ways. One’s love to the Lord was shown through obedience. Jesus clearly taught, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15).  The Lord required full obedience to his commands. Without full obedience, he could not entirely fulfill what he wanted to do in and through the disciples’ lives. Teaching his commands is of utmost importance in discipleship.

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Category: Biblical Studies

About the Author: Alyssa Lillo is a student at Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma, majoring in Ministry and Leadership with Local Church Pastor as well as Evangelism and Outreach concentrations. After graduation she plans to work with a Christian non-profit (church or organization) to bring the light of God through outreach and discipleship to all she encounters.

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